The origin of the Margarita is not 100% clear and stories of who created the first, where it was created and how it got its name are shrouded in anecdotal urban legend.
Be that as it may, the Margarita appears to have been concocted in Mexico around the late 1930s/early 1940s although the actual recipe is not exactly cast in stone being left, mostly, to the individual preference of the bar tender making it.
My preferred recipe is Tequila, Triple Sec and fresh lime juice in the ratio of 3:2:1, shaken with ice and poured, lovingly, into a salt-rimmed Martini glass.
That’s it; no ice, no garnish just pure liquid gold in a glass.
The classic Margarita glass is a variation on the original Champagne Coupe and is known as a ‘welled’ glass, probably designed and made in the early 1950s.
Prior to that, Margaritas were served in large wine glasses but these days you see both the original Margarita Coupe and the more classic and stylish Martini glass being used. I generally find that if I order a Margarita in a classic hotel bar, it’s likely to be served in a Margarita Coupe but if I’m in a contemporary environment it’ll be in a Martini glass.
So, to the all-important recipe…
3-parts Tequila: Purists bang-on about the importance of the type, quality and age of Tequila used and, whilst it’s no doubt important to some, the flavour and texture of the Tequila is so heavily compromised by the rest of the ingredients I doubt it’s as important as the purists would have us believe. A good, preferably gold, Tequila will always see you right, and please, don’t worry about the worm.
2-parts Triple Sec or Cointreau: Both of these liqueurs were created about a hundred years before the Margarita saw the light of day but, in latter years, Cointreau has become a modern-day tipple so is more often used in Margaritas as the sweetener. My personal preference is Triple Sec because it’s very smooth and sweeter than Cointreau.
1-part lime juice: Fresh lime juice adds the most amazing zing and is a welcome addition to many cocktails. Roll the lime around, lightly pressing down to release the juices, cut it in half and squeeze-out the wonderful, sharp but somehow sweet juice.
The mix: Pour all three liquids into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice and, as Benji, my favourite holiday bar tender would say; “shake it with a smile“, whilst beaming ear-to-ear.
The rim of the glass; salt or sugar: Typically Maragritas have a salt-rimmed glass. The salt is a fantastic contrast to the sweet and sour of the cocktail and is akin to the Tequila Slammer in licking the salt from your hand, slamming-back the Tequila and sucking on a lemon. However, not everyone likes the contrast so sugar became a popular option and is usually offered as a choice at the time of ordering. Some will also half-salt the rim to give you a clean area to drink from and allowing you to just occasionally nip at the salt.
The Finale: Pour the ice cold contents of the shaker through a Hawthorne or Julep strainer (or your fingers if you’ve nothing else available!) and there you have it; the perfect Margarita. Joy in a glass.